The history of World War II prisoners of war (POWs) held captive in Taiwan should be presented in a way that reflects diverse perspectives, Minister of Culture Lung Ying-tai (龍應台) said during a recent visit to a former POW camp.
“When we are commemorating history on this small plot of ground in Jinguashi, we should take into consideration the complexity of history and not view it from a single perspective,” Lung said at the former Kinkaseki POW Camp, which is now a memorial park, in New Taipei City (新北市).
Lung made the remark after Cheng Chun-shan (鄭春山), a 78-year-old former worker in a local mine, who guided the minister around the park, said the government is not concerned about Taiwanese who were forced by the Japanese to work as camp guards and who were imprisoned or sentenced to death by the Allies after the war.
Lung said later that she has asked ministry officials to coordinate with the New Taipei City Government to discuss the idea.
She added it would be useful for civic groups to gather people with different historical viewpoints, to give the ministry a proposal on what they hope could be done.
In 1942, 523 prisoners of war from Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand were sent by the Japanese to the Kinkaseki camp, where they were forced to labor in a copper mine and were subjected to inhumane treatment.
An annual memorial ceremony for the POWs is held at the site of the former camp on the second Sunday of November.
The New Taipei City Government has spent NT$36 million (US$1.19 million) building the memorial park and erecting a stone wall that is engraved with the names of the more than 4,000 POWs held captive in Taiwan between 1942 and 1945.